I have been on Fetlife for more than four years and have seen a lot of stuff I never thought I would see. There are fetishes that I've been exposed to that I never thought existed, much less had any interest in trying. But recently, I discovered one that blew the lid off what I thought was acceptable. I'm not talking about fetishes involving children or animals or other unwilling partners. I'm talking about surgery.
Last week, I had four days off from work--my usual weekend and then New Year's Eve and Day. The weekend was my usual weekend off, New Year's Eve was my birthday and New Year's Day the store was closed. I got paid for the latter two days. On Sunday, the day before my birthday, I began to have lower abdominal pain. It felt a lot like menstrual cramps and was different from the usual IBS pain that I sometimes have to deal with. And because of where the pain was located, I knew that my gallbladder wasn't the culprit. But, foolishly and unwisely, I ignored it because I had plans the next day and didn't want to spend my birthday in the hospital. I know this was dangerous and I have been taken to task by both doctors and friends for ignoring what was clearly a danger sign. Remember, I ignored my angina for five days before going to the ER so there's a precedent there. I went through with my plans to be spanked on my birthday by a very good spanko friend. We had a great time and he took some awesome pics, which I posted on my Fetlife profile. I don't look the least bit sick or in distress in them. But by Tuesday night, the pain was becoming hard to ignore. And it wasn't going away. So I swallowed hard and made the trip to the ER, dreading it the whole way. Before I left, I joked to my sister "Watch it be my appendix!" I had had a hysterectomy 20 years ago, but knew I still had my ovaries so my first thought, given that the pain felt like cramps, was that it might be a ruptured ovarian cyst or something. When I got to ER, the chirpy receptionist smiled, despite the obvious expression of distress on my face, and said "Why are the visiting us today?" I was in a hospital, not Disneyland, for crying out loud and I desperately wanted to make some kind of snappy retort to her absurd question. But all I said was "I'm having abdominal pain. I think I better see a doctor." Now given that it was New Year's Day, I expected the ER to be filled to overflowing with a bunch of people with gastroenteritis or severe hangovers or possibly the flu. But it wasn't that busy. I was triaged quickly, where the triage nurse asked me if I'd ever had kidney stones. No, I hadn't, I told him and please don't jinx me.
After I was done in triage, I was sent out to the waiting room to wait my turn. There was the usual sights one sees in the ER--crying babies, people sneezing and coughing all over the place and a few homeless people who didn't want to spend New Year's out in the freezing weather. But I was called quickly and put into an exam room. The nurse again checked my vitals (despite the fact that they had just done that in triage) and asked me a few more pointed questions, such as had I over imbibed the previous day or was I taking any recreational drugs? No, I'm not a wino and I'm not a junkie. I'm a middle aged woman with a gut that hurts. She had me take off my clothes and put on an exam gown. Now I have posed in these on Fetlife before for friends who like that kind of thing and I have never minded doing it. But having to wear one for real is a pain. For starters, they aren't exactly flattering. And they never fit right. But the nurse got me comfortable under a couple of blankets (the kind they heat) and then I waited for the doctor. It was a rather long wait, unfortunately. But she did come in, followed by some young looking interns. She shook my hand and told me she was sorry I was in pain, but they were going to do all they could to find out what was causing it. First, she took a medical history from me; the kind of thing that you would expect from someone who was seeing you for the first time. I told her about procedures I'd had, about past surgeries and medications I'd been on. She asked specific questions about my myocardial infarction and the placement of my stent. She asked if I smoked or drank to excess. Then she had me lie flat and she pressed on my stomach, telling me to let her know if anything was particularly painful. Some of her pressing caused me to wince, but nothing put me on the ceiling. I was happy to have a female doctor though. I think female doctors understand female patients better than male ones do. I'm not saying this because I don't like male doctors. But it just seems like when a woman goes to the ER complaining of some kind of symptoms that are vague, a male doctor will pat the woman's hand and put it down to stress or overwork. In essence, telling a woman "There, there. You have a uterus so therefor you're hysterical. I'll prescribe some Valium for you and you can go home and clean the kitchen." Now, I know I'm generalizing a bit, but it sure seems to me that that's the attitude that male doctors have toward female patients. Anyway, my lady doctor examined me both rectally and vaginally (just with her finger) to see if she could feel any masses or obstructions, but she felt nothing. She told me that, since I have a history of diverticular disease and IBS, she could treat me with antibiotics and assume that that's what was causing the pain. Or she said she could do a CT scan and find out what's really causing it. I know that giving me antibiotics was supposed to be seen as a cost cutting measure, but I really felt that this pain was different than anything I'd experienced before. I asked her what were the chances that this isn't an ovarian cyst? She said that just because she didn't feel anything didn't mean it wasn't there. So I opted to have the CT scan. She seemed relieved that I had been prudent enough not to leave the ER without a definitive diagnosis. Leaving the ER with a differential diagnosis ("Well, it could be this but we're not sure.") is a very bad idea and usually leads to having to go back a second time. I didn't want to do that. As soon as I told her that I wanted to go ahead with the scan, she sent a nurse in (a male) to give me the contrast. It looked like a large bottle of water. He told me I had an hour to drink it. He started an IV and took five vials of blood. Then he asked me if I could give a urine sample. I told him maybe a little and he said that would be good enough, they only needed a little. I thought surely they aren't going to do a pregnancy test, knowing my age and the fact that I'd had a hysterectomy 20 years earlier. But he walked me to the restroom and gave me my instructions for peeing into the cup (like I hadn't done this hundreds of times before). When I was finished, I went back to the room, carefully carrying my pee with me. Then I turned on the TV to see if there was anything on worth watching while I drank my bottle of contrast. I came upon a "Twilight Zone" marathon on ScyFy Channel and settled in to watch it. I didn't realize it at the time, but the bottle of contrast I was now drinking would be my only liquids for quite a few hours. The male nurse came in at intervals to check my progress and to bring me warm blankets. We talked a little about baseball as well as I recall. An hour later, the bottle of contrast emptied, someone came to take me to nuclear medicine, where I would have my CT done. Now I'm old enough to remember well the days before scans like this. I remember the days when, if something couldn't be found on X-ray, then your next option was "exploratory surgery", where the surgeon went in to see what was the problem. I'd had exploratory surgery myself and, as much as I dislike lying still for CT scans, I will take it over being cut open. For people who have never had a CT, it goes like this: you lie on a table at the bottom of which is a large tube. The technician first flushed my IV with saline. He asked me my name and date of birth. Then he asked me if I was allergic to anything. I said no. He went to his little room and spoke to me over a microphone. He asked me to raise my hands over my head and keep them there. Then he moved me into the tube about halfway. I heard the machine whir to life. While I was actually being scanned, I was instructed to hold my breath (by a little picture of a person with a puffed out face on the front of the CT machine). After two separate scans, he withdrew me from the tube and told me over the microphone that he was now injecting the X-ray dye into my IV. I heard a little suction sound and felt the dye going into my vein. For a split second, I imagined that this might be what a felon feels during a lethal injection. Then I felt the sudden sensation of feeling as though I had peed my pants. "Hot crotch" is common when the dye is injected. It's bothersome and somewhat alarming, but it's a normal side effect of the dye. It passes fast though. I felt really hot and somewhat strange, but I was still able to follow the instructions I was being given. Then he took two more scans, after the X-ray dye was injected. Then the radiologist came out of his little room and helped me get back in my bed and helped me get comfortable. Then someone else wheeled me back to the exam room. The male nurse that had given me the bottle of contrast asked me if I needed anything. I told him I needed to use the bathroom again and he helped me to the bathroom. I asked him if I could have something to drink but he shook his head. No, because the doctor might want to order some more tests and so I couldn't have anything by mouth. An IV would keep me hydrated, but that didn't do anything for how dry my mouth and throat were getting.
When I was once again settled, I turned my attention back to the "Twilight Zone" marathon, which was still going on. After no more than ten minutes, the attending physician came in, holding a copy of my CT scan. I was scared by the expression on his face. Oh Lord, what if they found a tumor or something? How would I deal with it? He spoke quickly enough though.
"It's definitely your appendix," he told me. "You're having surgery in the morning, young lady."
I found it more than a bit odd that he called me "young lady" when he was younger than I was. Perhaps he knew that I was about to give him an argument about it? Which is exactly what I did. I asked him if I could just get some antibiotic to get rid of whatever was causing the appendicitis. But he shook his head, telling me that my appendix looked pretty large on the CT and that I had probably only been a day or two from having a perforated appendix, which is far more serious. Great, I thought. And then my second thought was to rejoice and thank God that it was something that could be easily fixed. And I was ashamed that thanking God wasn't my first thought. My first thought had been to argue with the doctor. I asked him when my surgery would be. He told me that they had no room for me on the OR schedule that night but that it would be first thing in the morning. Then he left and the lady doctor came back in. She took my hand and said "I know you're stunned by the news that you'll be needing surgery, but this is good news. Both of your ovaries look OK. Even your diverticuli don't look to be causing trouble. I think the other times, when you thought it was IBS, it was your appendix. Your a very lucky lady tonight."
She gave me some antibiotics through my IV, which I was told was standard procedure for someone who can't have surgery right away for appendicitis. She told me that, as soon as they could get a room ready for me, I would be admitted to the surgical floor so I could be monitored until I could get on the OR schedule. She again patted my hand and said "You're going to be OK, honey." She said she would have the nurse come in and see if there was anything else I needed. She smiled reassuringly at me and left. When the nurse came back in, I told him that I needed to call my family and let them know that I was going to be admitted. He handed me the phone and told me how to use it, after first getting my promise that I was calling a local number. I called my older sister and told her what had happened. She's one of these people who believe that anyone goes to a hospital is a hypochondriac. That every medical malady can be avoided by just ignoring it. But I ignored my pain for two full days and it wasn't going away. I told her that the doctor had told me I had missed a perforated appendix by only a day or two. She clucked and said doctors were scammers. I found this strange considering she works in a hospital. But whatever. I needed her to call my boss that morning and tell them that I wouldn't be in to work that day. Just a few minutes later, someone came to take me to my room. It was shift change when I got upstairs to my room and the night shift nurse was just getting ready to leave. But she took my vitals, weighed me (in the bed) and asked me if I needed anything for pain. Yes, I did. I hadn't really needed anything before because my pain was serving a purpose. But now that I had gotten a diagnosis, I didn't need the pain anymore. So she called the doctor on call and got an order for some pain meds. All in all, I don't find hospitals to be good places to sleep. There's far too much activity going on. The nurse came back in and gave me some fentynal for my pain. Then she advised me to "get some sleep". I was worried though. What if my appendix ruptured before they could get me into surgery? They were giving me antibiotics through my IV, but for some reason, I didn't think it was strong enough. I'm sure it was my fear, doubt and insecurities talking.
I did manage to sleep some during the night. The nurse kept coming in and checking on me, changing over my saline IV bag when it became empty. But I was told I couldn't have anything, even ice chips, since they were planning on my surgery for first thing in the morning. While I readily confess that I had doubts and fears, I had no time to be afraid of the actual surgery. It all happened way too fast for that. Appendectomies are always considered emergencies, I learned and, unknown to me, things on the OR schedule were moved around so that I could have my surgery as early as possible. One thing I know from previous stays in hospitals is that doctors do their rounds early in the morning. An older man I took to be the doctor who would do my surgery came in and saw me. He smiled warmly and asked me how I'd spent the night. I admitted that I was concerned about getting my appendix out before it burst and he nodded knowingly. He assured me that a lot of other people were worried about that, too and that everything was being done to make sure I got priority over non-emergency cases. He told me that everyone who saw my CT scan agreed that my appendix HAD to come out and the sooner the better. He said that my appendix looked pretty enlarged on the scan and he said it must have been painful. I shrugged. I'm not a wimp when it comes to pain. I'm pretty stoic actually. My main concern right now was getting the most painful part, the actual surgery, over with. He smiled again, a smile so warm and genuine that I instantly felt safe and secure, and assured me that all would be well. He would come back when they had found a place on the schedule for me. He noticed that I was watching cooking shows on TV to make up for the fact I couldn't eat anything. He said that a lot of people do that and laughed a bit. But it wasn't malicious, just something that gave him a smile. I felt so relieved that such a nice, warm caring man would be doing my surgery. About an hour later, another doctor, this one a young woman surgeon, came in and gave me the news that she would be doing my surgery. I was disappointed because I liked that man with the warm, caring smile. However, I felt that as a beggar I couldn't really be a chooser. She told me that the would do the surgery laparascopically, but she also warned me that, if she couldn't visualize my abdominal organs (because of scar tissue from my previous surgeries) she would go ahead and do an open surgery. One thing I loved was that my weight was never mentioned even once. She never once said "You're too fat for me to do this surgery laparascopically." She examined me, listened to my heart and lungs and pressed my abdomen a bit to see if she could find any localized pain. She said sometimes if you wait awhile with appendicitis, the pain would become more concentrated in one place. But mine seemed to be more widespread and she knit her brow a bit at that. She ordered some blood work, worried that my appendix may have perforated during the night. Oh, I sure hoped not. While this new surgeon went to get my blood work done, a nice nurse came in to prep me for surgery. She sponged me off and put a clean gown on me. She also gave me a hat to put on my head to keep my hair contained. I'm sure I looked horrible. And I said something to the nurse about it. "Honey," she told me, "I've been a surgical nurse for 15 years and I've spent all that time seeing people at less than their best. You look fine to me. But a little scared." I admitted that I was waiting on blood work to see if my appendix had ruptured and I was scared. And I told her I was afraid of how urgent everyone seemed to think my surgery was. She nodded knowingly. "People always think that having your appendix out is no big deal. Yeah, it's a common surgery and done every day. But for the person having it done, it's a very big deal. People outside of medicine might get blase` about routine surgeries, but we never do." She sat on the bed next to me and rubbed my back as I fretted over the blood work and my impending surgery. That nice young lady surgeon came back in and told me that my blood work looked good. It looked like my appendix had held. She also told me that I was on the OR schedule for 10 o'clock and that the transport teem would be coming to take me to the OR. She seemed to sense that this was an important operation and she again assured me I'd be OK. She explained the laparascopic procedure and told me why she felt it would be better to my surgery this way as opposed to an open procedure. Yes, there were drawbacks. The surgery would take a little longer, exposing me to anesthesia longer. But she felt that the smaller incisions and quicker recovery time would mitigate this. I knew that laparascopic surgery has been the preferred the method for a few years now. She said you're still young, active and working so it's important to take that into consideration. She told me we would talk one more time before I went into the OR and then she left. Then someone came in to take me to the OR. He smiled and told me "It's time for your close up, Cheryl." I didn't appreciate the humor at the time. I realized later that he was only trying to put me at ease and lighten the moment a bit. He asked if I could walk to the stretcher, which was out in the hall because it was too large to fit in the room. I assured him that I wasn't having surgery on my legs, which made him laugh and had him to understand that I appreciated humor as well. He unhooked my IV and attached it to a stand that was attached to the stretcher. Then he undid the pressure cuffs they had put on my lower legs, this was to prevent blood clots I had been told. I was familiar with them as I had had them when I was in for my heart attack. He made sure that my gown covered me front and back as I got on the stretcher and he covered me with a sheet. "Here we go," he said. It was a long way, down several corridors and two elevators, to the OR. When we got there, there were other people waiting to go in as well. A few appeared to be recuperating from surgery. I closed my eyes and prayed that God would get me through the operation and that He would guide my surgical team. I also thanked Him that He works through people. The anesthesiologist came over and asked me a few questions, including my name and date of birth, questions I was already getting tired of asking. But I understood why they did that. He assured me that he was the Chief of Anesthesiology at the hospital and that he had assigned himself to my surgery because of my cardiac history. He didn't want there to be any mishaps. Then a perky young nurse introduced herself as my surgical nurse. She said she would be helping my surgeon and she asked if I had any questions. It's funny about that. I have yet to be able to think of anything pertinent to ask at that time. She smiled again and told me that the surgeon was waiting to come in and talk to me one more time. When she left, the surgeon came in. She was gowned though not scrubbed yet. She was a rather nerdy looking redhead. I liked her glasses. I had gotten over my disappointment that the other surgeon had not been able to do my surgery after all. I just took the change as God saying that this was one that would be doing it. She told me they would be using inhaled anesthesia for my surgery and that I would be closely monitored and that I would be catheterized for the surgery to keep my bladder flat and out of the way. She also told me that I would have an airway that would help me breathe. Then they wheeled me into the actual operating room. It looked too small for surgery, but I guessed things had changed a bit since my last operation. They had me move onto the operating table, which was really narrow. The OR nurse unsnapped my gown and they began to press telemetry on me so that my heart could be monitored. I found this a strangely dehumanizing procedure for some reason. No on really talked to me, they just went about the business of getting me physically ready. The anesthesiologist apologized for how narrow the table was but explained that that was necessary. He put an oxygen mask over my face and that's the last thing I remember. All the other prep work was done after I was put to sleep. I don't even remember falling asleep. The next thing I remember was hearing a voice saying "Cheryl, time to wake up. Come on, honey, wake up." I felt like my arms and legs were too heavy to move. And my eyelids were too heavy to open. The man's voice said again "Come on, Cheryl. Wake up, honey." I tried to move my head, but I got nauseous. All I could do was groan. He had the nurse give me some Zofran (nausea medication) through my IV. I did manage to open my eyes. My stomach felt like a truck had run over me. The nurse asked me if I knew where I was and what had happened to me. All I could do was mutter "Surgery". The nurse wiped my face and cooed. "That's right. It's all over now." I don't remember how they got me back to my room. I do remember not wanting to be moved. When they got me back to my room (which was a private room) the surgical nurse was there. She helped them get me into my bed and adjusted my IV and the blankets. I know she gave me more pain medication. I noticed for the first time the nasal cannula. I was being given oxygen, which is common after anesthesia to help the body get rid of it. I also realized that I was no longer catheterized. The Foley had been removed before I came to. It dawned on me that they would expect me to get up and go to the bathroom myself. Everything hurt--my abdomen, my throat, my eyes, my back, my shoulders, everything. They had filled my abdomen with gas during surgery in order to be able to see all of my organs better. Once the surgery was over, the gas begins to dissipate and it seeks out body cavities to go to. So that's why my back and shoulders hurt. That was from the gas. I was not left alone at first. I was vaguely aware of nurses checking my vitals and coming in and out of the room. I was just in so much pain it was almost unbearable. When I got brave enough to move my head again and look around the room, I saw that I was still getting saline in my IV. The nurse must have noticed that I taking more notice of my surroundings and came over to me. "How's your pain, Cheryl?" she asked. "Hurts," was all I could manage to say. She gave me some more fentynal and pretty soon I floated away again. I felt the compression cuffs go back on my legs. She told me that, if and when I needed to get up and go to my bathroom, to call her and she would come and help me. At that moment, that was the farthest thing from my mind. I'd had no food or water since 5:00 the previous night so there was no reason to believe I would need to get up anytime soon.
All during the day, I began to feel better. The fog lifted and I began to think coherent thoughts again. I had no more nausea and that was good. I hate being sick. Periodically, a nurse or aide would come in and check on me. They monitored my vitals at intervals. Everything was entered on the computer in the corner of the room. Nothing was ignored. If I shifted position while I was asleep, it was noted. When I asked for food, they wrote it down. Finally, at around six o'clock that night, someone from dietary came in and asked me if I wanted to try to eat something. I remembered back to all the stuff I went through with Carol, how we kept certain foods in the house because she could eat and tolerate them no matter how bad she felt. I asked for some chicken broth, a grilled cheese sandwich and some Sierra Mist. I was on the general diet and could have anything I wanted. I considered ordering some fruit as well, but I changed my mind. The broth was salty and tasted so good to my famished stomach. The sandwich was gooey and toasted to perfection. The food at this hospital was better than most, I concluded. I sipped my broth and ate most of it. The sandwich disappeared completely. I was still hungry, but felt I shouldn't push my good luck. I had eaten and kept the food down with no problem. But there was no reason to compromise that. A little later, I couldn't put it off any more. I had to ask the nurse to come and take me to the bathroom. There was a container in the toilet to catch my urine so it could be measured. She came and took the cuffs off my legs and unplugged my IV and walked behind me as I walked. I was shaky at first, but I soon had my feet under me steadily. It felt so good to take a pee and know I had control of something. When the nurse got me settled back in bed, she took some baby powder and rubbed my back, just to pamper me a bit. I have to admit that I love being pampered. I don't get pampered very often so I welcome it when it does come. About ten o'clock, the nurse came back and asked me if I felt like walking the hall a little. I thought, if it would get me home sooner, I would do whatever I had to. The nurse gave me another gown, this one to wear facing the front like a robe in order to cover myself. The nurse advised me to lean on the IV stand and to warn her if I got dizzy. I admit that I didn't walk very far, only to the end of the hall and back. But I felt strong and steady. I knew the worst part was over. She let me decide how far we were going.
I actually did sleep pretty well that night. I knew I was more than likely going home the next day. I had come through the surgery with no complications and I had no doubt I would heal up normally and soon be back to work. The next morning, I called my boss. When I had spoken to my sister the previous evening, she had told me that I boss had told her that I needed to call in for myself. I shook my head. "You told her that I was having surgery, didn't you?" I asked her. Of course she'd told her. I wondered how anyone could think someone in the hospital facing surgery could even think of their job. Besides, I was in no shape to call anyone that morning as I waiting for there to be room for me in the OR schedule. So I did call my boss and spoke to her. I told her that I was still in the hospital, that I didn't think I would be discharged until later that day. What she said next blew my mind. "Does that mean you'll need Friday off, too?" I was taken aback. I said "I just had major abdominal surgery. I think it's pretty safe to say that I won't be back until my surgeon clears me to come back." I did get discharged later that afternoon. In the meantime, while I waited for my paperwork to come through, I was allowed to take a shower and brush my teeth. I had a big breakfast that morning, too: Mexican omelet, hash browns, bacon and a big glass of V8. I ate almost every bite of it. I was so hungry I would have eaten just about anything they would have put in front of me. After my breakfast, the nurse came in and took out my IV. My surgeon came in just after breakfast and examined my surgical sites and asked me how I'd slept. According to all of the information she had, I'd passed a good night and would be going home. I called my scene friend, Aaron, to come pick me up. I knew when I called him that he would come. It felt good to put on my own clothes. I hate wearing those gowns. They brought a wheelchair for me and off we went.
When I got home, it occurred to me that I had been offline for two days. This was not normal for me. I knew my friends were probably worried about me so I posted a short note on Fetlife to let my friends know that I had had to have surgery and that I was back now. In fact, my inbox was full of messages from my friends asking me where I was and hoping I was OK. Later that day, after I had posted my note, I got a rather strange message from someone who isn't on my friend list. He said "Mmmmm...I would have loved to be the doctor who got to operate on that incredible body. I bet you looked so hot with that mask on your face. Mmmmm. Please write me back with all the details of your sexy surgery." I was dumbfounded. Sexy surgery? Was this man crazy? Apparently, there's a fetish for real surgical procedures. I don't want to make a judgment here. But this is outside my experience in the scene. He never asked how I was doing or expressed any concern about my condition. He just wanted to hear all the sexy details of my appendectomy. Go figure. Yes, I went through all of that so this guy could have stroke material. I guess it's true that you really do learn something new everyday.